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Summary: To one extent or another, we all carry a burden of guilt. That is not God’s desire. He wants us to get rid of it and has given us the means to do so.

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January 26, 2003 Zechariah 3:1-10

¡§The burden of guilt¡¨

INTRODUCTION

In January of 1985 Roger Boisjoly, an engineer for Morton Thiokol, observed that under unusually cold conditions, an o-ring seal on the Space Shuttle¡¦s solid rocket booster would fail. Further tests were done, and in July of 1985 Boisjoly wrote a memo to the Vice President of Engineering at Morton Thiokol which stated: ¡§It is my honest and very real fear that if we do not take immediate action to dedicate a team to solve the problem, ¡K then we stand in jeopardy of losing a [space shuttle] flight¡K¡¨ (Roger Boisjoly January 1985 ). Even in the hours leading up to the launch of the Challenger in January of 1986, Boisjoly and other engineers were stating their belief that it was not safe to launch the shuttle. Despite the engineer¡¦s concerns, a general manager for Morton Thikol said, ¡§We have to make a management decision¡¨ (address given at MIT ). They made the decision to launch.

I wonder how many months and years it took those men who made ¡§a management decision¡¨ to be able, once again, to sleep through the night. I wonder about the guilt that they felt for making a decision that cost the lives of those astronauts.

To some extent, we all deal with guilt. Our crime and therefore our guilt may not be as severe as those who have caused the loss of a life. It may be something so small cheating on our diet. Some of you may like the way that Erma Bombeck says that you should deal with those temptations to indulge in forbidden foods. She says, ¡§Seize the moment! Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.¡¨ Tax time will soon be upon us, and some of you will be tempted to fudge a little bit on the income that you report, or you may be reminded of a time that you yielded to that temptation. One man was reminded of a tax debt that he owed, so he sent a check to the government for back taxes with a note attached that said, ¡§I felt so guilty for cheating on my taxes I had to send you this check. If I don¡¦t feel any better, I¡¦ll send you the rest.¡¨ ¡V Nicky Gumbel

Our guilt can get so great that we can echo the thoughts of David when he said in Psa 38:4 ¡§My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.¡¨

¡§We live in a world where one of the greatest problems [we face], one of the most powerful forces we feel, is guilt. So what do we, as Christians, have to say to this situation? What does the Bible have to say?¡¨ ¡V Chris Appleby Is there a better way to deal with our guilt than to drown it with alcohol or to try and cover it over with deeds of pennance?

This morning, I want us to take a look at someone who stood guilty before the Lord and see how his guilt was removed and how he was restored to a place of blessing. In the process, we will discover five answers to the question of how you can be free of the burden of guilt that you may have been carrying for a very long time.

1. Re-examine God¡¦s statements about you. (vs. 1-2)

In this passage, we are presented with a vision about ¡§Joshua the high priest, standing before God, with Satan accusing him. So what is he being accused of? As the high priest he stands as the representative of the people, so perhaps the accusation has to do with the way the nation has turned away from worshipping God to idols. Let me read you the account in 2 Chronicles 36:13-16, of the final state of Israel before the Babylonians captured the city: "Zedekiah also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God; he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD, the God of Israel. All the leading priests and the people also were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of the LORD that he had consecrated in Jerusalem. The LORD, the God of their ancestors, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD against his people became so great that there was no remedy." So there was plenty for Satan to accuse him of wasn¡¦t there?


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